School feeding meals to be made nutritious: Hanse-Himarwa

23 Jun 2015 10:40am
KATIMA MULILO, 23 JUN (NAMPA) – Efforts are being made to make food more nutritious under the Namibian School Feeding Programme (NSFP).
Currently, more than 300 000 rural primary school learners and some in urban educational institutions are being provided mid-morning meals comprising of only maize meal porridge under the NSFP.
Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said her ministry is looking into including nutritious meals, and has engaged the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to provide fish and fish products to the programme.
Hanse-Himarwa, who is on a four day familiarisation visit to Zambezi Region, told Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu during her courtesy call on him that her ministry is also emulating the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) feeding programme design.
Unicef works globally for the rights of children, such as the right to safe shelter, nutrition, protection from disaster, clean water and sanitation, health care and education.
“The school feeding programme is an important programme. The economic background from where our people are coming from is very rural and very poor but they still manage to send their children to school.
“This is why we have started to look at the nutritious side of the programme, as currently learners depend on maize and this is not good because no human being can live on maize year in and year out.
“We are now in the process to strengthen the programme and make it nutritious by getting some other food stuff,” said Hanse-Himarwa.
She revealed that under the same programme, the Education Ministry is also reviewing its policy so that volunteers who are or have been cooking the maize meal porridge for learners since its inception in 1996, will start receiving monetary incentives.
This would compel volunteers to be committed and loyal, and not feel exploited but responsible when preparing meals for learners, she said.
“As much as people are volunteers and standing on their own to do things in the community, we cannot keep on exploiting them. We cannot abuse their kind hearts and goodwill forever because they are also needy.
“So it is about time they receive incentives as this will encourage them to continue to volunteer until such a time we put them in a permanent structure,” said the minister.
The provision of food in schools is something that has come to stay until such a time Government eradicates poverty in the country, she said, adding that it is a programme that needs to go where the need arises within the education structures.